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I could just hear it in my head: ‘Well, you got a little big for your britches, did ya?
’”Kate didn’t have a day of design training, and she had not been artistic as a child—“Students were pulled aside to spend more time in art class,” she says, “and I wasn’t one of them.” But she did have a distinctive personal style (she’s been likened to both Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn, and is right in between), and she’d studied the accessories market for years.
( page 81: Avoid foreign languages.) It was a neat aesthetic package that filled a wide gap in the market. Kate and Andy weren’t married yet, but the bag was their baby, and the name had a ring.
It was printed in New Baskerville, a typeface that feels contemporary yet timeless.
But in her early squares and rectangles, made first in black satin-finished nylon and then in spanking saturated brights (her current favorite bag is a style called “Chance,” in apple green), Kate was doing something cleaner and bigger.
Working with the precision of an artist or architect (the handbags have been shown at the Cooper-Hewitt museum and recognized with design awards), she combined elements of American style—modesty, clarity, suitability, strength—into something straight out of Strunk and White, a book Andy admires.
It was so pared down that Kate took the label from the inside and stitched it to the outside—so the eye would have a place to go.“Andy and Kate grew up in suburbia, and I think that there’s this sense in all of us who grew up in the suburbs, watching our parents and now realizing you are your parents—what about that is the same and what about that is different?There is a sense of intellectual curiosity mixed with style mixed with the classics that defines the brand. doesn’t make myths in the Ralph Lauren mode, or seek Nirvana like Donna Karan.The bag debuted at Barneys and Charivari in 1993, but what people wouldn’t quite see until the mid-1990s, when the hand-to-hand combat between designer handbags heated up, was just how American this handbag was.